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Working group seeks more engagement from DIII FARs

Kurt Beron, a Texas-Dallas economics professor, has served as the school’s faculty athletics representative since 2000. In that capacity, he interacts regularly with the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, serves as a trusted bridge between the athletics and faculty communities and has worked on an array of NCAA committees.

Beron’s longevity, though, is more exception than rule.

NCAA data show that more than a quarter of faculty athletics representative positions in Division III turn over every two years. Include those who are replaced within a four-year window, and the number climbs to about half. Not enough time, Beron says, to make a meaningful impact on campus or beyond. 

“FARs on campus are really an unknown quantity to most of their colleagues,” Beron says. “I think those who have much shorter terms have a lot to give that they’re just not able to.”

So, in December 2016, Beron and a handful of like-minded FARs, students and administrators from Division III schools across the country formed the Division III FAR Engagement Working Group. The 12 members have been crafting ideas to help FARs become better engaged with student-athletes on their campuses and are empowered by school administrators to be more proactive on the conference and national levels.

The group will present the seeds of those early efforts at January’s Division III business session at the NCAA Convention, and will highlight the ways they may soon bear fruit. Next steps will include creating resources to help new FARs understand how to thrive in their role and, perhaps, a legislative proposal that could require more professional development for FARs. 

The goal, Beron says, is to ensure FARs on every Division III campus are engaged in academic integrity issues, advocating for student-athletes from an academic perspective and helping ensure institutional control.

“At the Division III level, FARs have really not been as visible as they might be on committees, in the governance structure, at meetings, so there was the question as to why that was,” Beron says. “I would hope that the Division III presidents would have a similar agreement that the FAR needs to be more engaged and, with their authority, I think resources will follow and the visibility of the FAR on campus can then increase.”

What’s Next?

So far, the working group has articulated five potential next steps to bolster faculty athletics representatives’ engagement:

  • An information sheet for campus leaders that details the value a long-tenured, highly engaged FAR can bring to student-athletes.
  • A best practices guide that includes an exit-interview template to help improve effectiveness of FARs coming into the role, a model to advocate for appointing two FARs per institution, and expectations related to FAR involvement with campus SAACs.
  • An educational orientation model for new FARs, including a potential grant program for new FARs, enhanced coordination with the Division III Faculty Athletics Representative Association and the Division III FAR Institute, and programming delivered on a regional basis.
  • A best practices guide for conference commissioners related to FAR engagement at the conference level, including mechanisms to establish better communication among FARs within conferences.
  • Potential legislation to codify expectations of a FAR’s role on campus, at the conference level and within the division’s governance structure, which could include mandated educational programming or requirements for attendance at key events.
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